New American Cursive
by Iris Hatfield (email)
Published by Memoria Press

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Why Learn Cursive?

Top 10 Reasons to Learn Cursive

Iris Hatfield, Handwriting Coach


Learning cursive offers an incredible array of well-documented benefits.

Below are ten reasons all children should be encouraged to learn cursive:



1. Improved neural connections in the brain. Cursive handwriting stimulates the brain in ways that typing cannot. It improves the dynamic interplay of the left and right cerebral hemispheres, helps build neural pathways, and increases mental effectiveness. According to Virginia Berninger, a researcher and professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, "Pictures of brain activity have illustrated that sequential finger movements used in handwriting activated massive regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory. Handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential finger strokes to form a letter, whereas keyboarding only involves touching a key.”


2.  Increased ability to read cursive.  Learning to write in cursive improves a student’s ability to read cursive. Many high school students cannot read cursive.  They are cursively illiterate in their own language. 


3.  Increased speed.  The connectivity of a simple cursive style is faster to write than the stop and start strokes of printing.


4.  Improved fine motor skills.  "Cursive handwriting naturally develops sensory skills.  Through repetition the child begins to understand how much force needs to be applied to the pencil and paper, the positioning of the pencil to paper at the correct angle, and motor planning to form each letter in fluid motion from left to right. This physical and spatial awareness allows them to write, but more importantly, builds the neural foundation of sensory skills needed for a myriad of everyday tasks such as buttoning, fastening, tying shoes, picking up objects, copying words from blackboards, and most importantly, reading.  To quote first-century Roman writer, Marcus Quintilanus, ‘too slow a hand impedes the mind,’ and we cannot afford to have our children be any slower.” Cutting Cursive, The Real Cost.  Candace Meyer, Minds-in-Motion, Inc. 


5. Improved continuity and fluidity of written communication. Cursive handwriting involves connecting letters, which has been shown to increase both speed of writing and attention span during writing. This increases continuity and fluidity in writing, which in turn encourages greater amounts of writing.


6. Ease of learning. Printing is more difficult due to the frequent stop and start motion when forming letters.   In addition, some printed letters look similar and are easily reversed, like the ‘b’ and  ‘d’, which is often confusing to children. This is of particular value to children with learning challenges like Dyslexia and A.D.D.


7. Improves reading and spelling ability.  When printing, some children write so erratically that it is difficult to determine where one word ends and another begins. Cursive, on the other hand, requires children to write from left to right so that the letters will join in proper sequence; therefore, it is easier to read.  It also aids with spelling through the connectivity of the letters. This helps the child to see words as a whole instead of seeing separate letters (as in printing).  Additionally, the hand acquires knowledge of spelling patterns through movements that are used repeatedly in spelling. This is the same phenomenon that occurs when pianists or typists learn patterns of hand movements through continued repetition.


8.  Self-discipline. Cursive handwriting is complex, and is inherently associated with the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.  Learning cursive prompts children to also develop self-discipline, which is a useful skill in all areas of life.


9. Higher quality signature. Cursive handwriting can improve the attractiveness, legibility, and fluidity of one’s signature.


10. Increased self-confidence.  The ability to master the skill to write clearly and fluidly improves the student’s confidence to communicate freely with the written word.


Handwriting is a vital life-skill.  Before the 1940’s all American children were taught cursive in the first grade. 


©2007-2014 Iris Hatfield
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